With all due respect to Washington’s Bryce Harper and Baltimore’s Manny Machado, the best young position player in baseball is Angels 21-year-old center fielder Mike Trout.
Trout won the AL Rookie of the Year and finished second for the AL MVP last season when he batted .326 with a .399 on-base percentage, 30 homers and 83 RBIs. He led the AL in stolen bases (49) and runs (129).
The 2012 All-Star and Silver Slugger is having another fine season. He entered Friday batting .297 with a .367 on-base percentage, .550 slugging percentage, 12 homers, 42 RBIs, 14 steals, 20 doubles, six triples and 47 runs.
Trout recently went one-on-one with Eagle-Tribune baseball writer Christopher Smith who writes the Smitty on Baseball blog on the Tribune website.
Smitty: Where was the first major league game you ever attended?
Trout: Phillies in old Veterans Stadium. I don’t know who they were playing. I think maybe the Expos. I was maybe 6 or 7.
Smitty: How old were you when you hit your first homer over a fence during a game?
Trout: I think I was 9 years old and just hit it down the line. (Knew it) as soon as I hit it. It was actually the first one I ever hit even in practice. It was a pretty cool feeling.
Smitty: Was it a cooler feeling than when you hit your first one in the major leagues?
Trout: No, no. The experience I had in Baltimore for my first home run with family and friends watching was a pretty cool experience.
Smitty: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Trout: (Derek) Jeter was always my favorite.
Smitty: Have you talked with him since being in the league?
Trout: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Just in general we (chatted). He’s an all-around great person on and off the field. You can sit there and talk to him about anything. And I got a chance to play with him in the All-Star Game. That was a pretty cool feeling.
Smitty: Does anyone specifically help you look at video to prepare for an upcoming pitcher?
Trout: Me and Albert (Pujols) sit down and we watch some video. We also look at scouting reports and just anything that can help you get that edge over the pitcher.
Smitty: You and Miguel Cabrera were neck-and-neck for the AL MVP last year. Who is one player who you would most want to talk hitting with?
Trout: Definitely Miguel (Cabrera). What he put together last year and his whole career — just incredible numbers. I talk to Torii (Hunter) a lot and he just tells me great things about (Cabrera’s) approach and just the way he carries himself out there. He hits for power and he drives it. He can the ball the other way a long way.
Smitty: Who is a guy that once played in baseball that no longer does who you would like to talk hitting with?
Trout: (Joe) DiMaggio. And I met Rickey Henderson. It was pretty cool. I met him in Oakland last year. Just a great guy and he’s jacked.
Smitty: Did your dad coach you growing up?
Trout: Yeah, (first coach) and he always coached me in Little League and all the way to high school.
Smitty: You struggled in your first stint major league stint in 2011. What did you learn from that?
Trout: It was tough because I wasn’t an every day (player). And now they’ve given me a chance to play every day and just be comfortable and just go out there and do my thing. When I got sent down the first time, I knew when I was up here I didn’t want to go back to the minor leagues. And I just told myself to just keep grinding it out, put some good at-bats together and things will go good.
Smitty: How’s this year going?
Trout: As a team, we’re grinding it out. Some days we pitch good and we don’t hit. Some days we hit and we don’t pitch. We put a stretch together where we won eight straight and we were doing both. It was a good feeling. We can’t look ahead of ourselves. From an individual standpoint, I feel good at the plate. Just keep doing my thing every day.
Follow Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher Smith under the Twitter handle @SmittyonMLB